Bold But Flawed, 15 May 2010
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The title alone is pretty much all that connects this incarnation of Robin Hood with it’s predecessors. A prequel, it could be described as the longest opening credits sequence in history, as it ends pretty much where the conventional story starts. This in itself is not a problem, yet despite much which is commendable ,somehow the end result fails to convince. With Ridley Scott in the Director’s Chair, and Russell Crowe leading the line, quality is not in short supply, but this is no “Gladiator”.
It opens in France with Richard the Lion Heart besieging a castle and starts well. The action is terrific and Robin is introduced as a humble archer. Scott and Crowe are on firm territory. But once Richard is killed, and Robin assumes a Knight’s identity the story starts to lose focus. Strangely, villain and traitor Sir Godfrey, assuredly played by mark Strong, gets back to London comfortably before Robin, Eurostar perhaps? We then have a strong dose of Court Intrigue as King John assumes power and Sir Godfrey plots a French coup. However, although well acted, the epic sweep which I suspect Scott was aiming for fails to convince.
Up in Nottingham , Cate Blanchette is a feisty, if somewhat awkward Maid Marion. 41 in real life, when we first see her ,she appears to be more plausibly the wife of Sir Walter Loxley, rather than his son. And although she is a reasonable match for Crowe, the absence of a traditional youthful Marion lowers the glamour quotient considerably. Friar Tuck, Will Scarlett, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Little John all appear in very minor roles only, which is a pity, as the story would benefit from some more light and shade.
The final act is rushed. Robin suddenly changes from unknown knight to a leader of Northern Earls and Barons in a scene which pretty much parodies Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” speech. They then appear to make a 250 mile dash, unsupported, to rout a French invasion, just as they are landing, in scenes which appear to parody the D- Day landings in “Saving Private Ryan”. Bizarrely the English troops are augmented by half naked Nottinghamshire forest children and maid Marion in full face visor to avenge the death of both her father and first husband.
All this is not to say that the film is without merit. The cinematography is superb and the creation of a new back story for Robin is no bad idea, complete with regret for a Christian massacre of Muslims. But ultimately the characters lack warmth and Scott tries too much in the 2hr 20 minute running time. Half that time neither does justice to Robin or King John.